Fast Food Dinner

It is beyond easy to hit the drive thru at the end of the day. Especially after you’ve spent the day mentally and physically exhausting yourself with living life. No matter what makes up your day; chasing toddlers, conference rooms, web meetings, napping between newborn feelings and diaper changes, blogging, or dictating corporate policy from a corner office. Everyone needs dinner. And takeout is always an option. Because reality is that making dinner takes thought and planning in addition to the actual prep and cooking time.

With that in mind, here are some of the things we do when we need dinner fast and no one wants to cook:
Yes, we grab takeout. Usually from a favorite local restaurant, or even from the grocery store deli. And yes, I can be found in heels and a cardigan sitting in the drive thru ordering the “taco box” on occasion as well. Because, let’s face it, it happens, and I’m not that illusive “super mom” that always has her crap together.

Some days I’m a little more organized and a little less harried. These days I cook. These meals are usually fresh, quick to cook, and often the result of a stop at the market before I get home. These meals are also often inspired by what looks good, or is on sale. Now, I love to cook, I do it a lot, and I have an intimate relationship with my pantry and refrigerator. As such, I almost always know what ingredients are on hand, and what I do or do not have to create a meal. If your relationship with your kitchen is less inappropriate than mine, I suggest grabbing it all, or calling for back-up — “Hi sweetie! It’s mom. Can you check the refrigerator and tell me if we have Dijon mustard? ….. Yeah, me again, do we have butter? Ok, how much?”

Sunday dinner this weekend was just one of those days. Weekends are often just as busy or busier than the weeknights. I had to hit the market for weekly supplies, and for something to throw together for dinner. A couple salmon fillets, some green beans, and some fingerling potatoes all found their way into my basket. While there I grabbed the ingredients for one of my all-time favorite quick meals — pasta pesto — which I’ll share in another post. At home, I cut the fingerlings in half, and put them cut-side down in my cast iron skillet in a puddle of butter and a splash of mineral water (purely because it was what was on-hand, and taking 3 steps to the sink seemed like more than I was prepared to move at the moment). Sprinkled with sea salt, pepper, and some parsley flakes, I covered them for 5 minutes, then let them finish uncovered until the water is absorbed, and the bottoms are nicely crisped. These I throw in a bowl lined with some paper towel, and then covered with some more paper towel and a plate. This will drain off the extra butter, and keep them warm.
Into a small saucepan I threw the green beans, a couple tablespoons of butter, another splash of mineral water. Covered, and cooked on low for just about 5 minutes. The time will depend on how thick your green¬†beans are. You’re looking for a bright green color. Turn it off, leave the lid on and it will hold beautifully while you finish off the salmon.
Into the same skillet as the potatoes, I added another 2 tablespoons of butter and the salmon filets. These I cooked on medium heat uncovered until the bottom got crisp. Then covered and allowed to cook until the flesh was opaque, and had acquired that perfect salmon pink color.

It took a grand total of 30 minutes to prep/cook and $15 of my grocery budget. More importantly, it tasted way better than the aforementioned taco box.

What is your favorite solution for putting quality dinner on the table on those extra busy nights?


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